Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/30

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IV. Causes of China's Backwaedness

Some of the major causes of China's backwardness in science become apparent when we compare her philosophical method with that which has characterized modern western inquiry, and to set this comparison in stronger relief let us glance at some of the salient aspects of modern scientific knowledge, both as to method and as to content.

Some Salient Aspects of Modern Scientific Knowledge.—

A. As to Method.

1. The inductive method of philosophical inquiry, supplemented at times by the deductive. The study of many particular cases and the process of drawing a general conclusion based on observation, and the extension of the general principle thus deduced to individual cases not actually observed. Aristotle developed inductive logic, but William Gilbert of Colchester, the founder of the science of electricity and magnetism, first successfully applied the principles of inductive philosophy which later received such wide development under Francis Bacon. The ampliative inference of Gilbert and Bacon is to be distinguished as philosophical or real induction, in contradistinction to formal or logical induction. Philosophical induction has been the guiding star of all modern scientific effort and is responsible in no small measure for the remarkable progress thus far achieved. To-day the countersign of science is "method."

2. The spirit of accuracy in observation and the constant effort finally to express all observations in terms of the three fundamentals—length, mass and time. The coordinated and careful regulation of standards of measurement by all civilized governments under the guidance of leading physicists. Modern science is synonymous with "accuracy."

3. The development and wide application of the very powerful instrument of mathematical analysis, by which otherwise impassable fields of research are clearly traversed and made to yield their quota to our general theory of natural phenomena. The electro-magnetic theory of radiation in all its details is a most striking example.

B. As to Content.

1. Extension of the universe in space by the researches of the telescope, and of the microscope as well.

2. An all-pervading medium by which radiation, as manifested by either its chemical, optical, thermal or electric and magnetic effects, is propagated.

3. Extension of the universe in time, made necessary by observations in physics as to the rate of cooling of the earth, combined with observations as to the physical condition and evolution of the stars; in geology as to the time required for the formation of the strata of the